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Fasting has been promoted for various reasons for many centuries, but it’s only recently that researchers have been able to investigate the health benefits from doing strict fasting for days at a time.
Fasting is thought to induce various changes in the body that help protect the cells from damage that may occur from the environment, and trigger pathways in the body which may increase health and possibly, lifespan.
My own experience with fasting
Fasting is something that I’ve done over the years in many forms. I’ve restricted my eating to only a few hours of the day and had long periods where I didn’t eat for up to 16 hours at a time. I’ve also fasted for one day of the week for 24 hours for many years. I’ve found that one of the biggest benefits of fasting is that it helps me focus better and keeps my brain sharp.
In other ways, it was always difficult to objectively or subjectively tell whether or not fasting was helpful over just doing calorie restriction. I’ve been practicing calorie restriction for such a long time and experienced very positive results from doing so. So, fasting on top of doing CR never seemed like a reasonable thing to continue to do.
And it’s not that fasting is very difficult either, it’s actually quite easy for me! Although, calorie restriction is easier and more convenient for my type of lifestyle and personality. Not to mention that the CR Diet has far more evidence to support its positive effects on health and longevity.
All that being said, there is no doubt that fasting is beneficial to health, but the evidence is less clear on whether or not it is able to extend maximum lifespan as calorie restriction can. In studies that have shown an extension of lifespan with fasting, there has also been some degree of restriction because of the animals not being able to make up for the fasting days on their feast day.
Below is an interesting video I’d like to share. Dr. Valter Longo discusses the benefits of fasting with Dr. Rhonda Patrick from Found My Fitness. It’s an excellent discussion that I recommend you watch!
The Interview: a brief overview
Dr. Rhonda Patrick speaks to Dr. Valter Longo, who was a student of the calorie restriction researcher and pioneer Roy Walford. During the last few years, he has demonstrated that prolonged fasting is able to rejuvenate the immune system in animals and do a better job at destroying cancer cells in the body.
He’s also demonstrated that cancer therapy and fasting might have synergistic effects by enhancing the effectiveness of treatment and reducing the side effects of chemotherapy in humans.
He talks about how fasting might be able to help improve health or even cure people with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. I’ve previously shared one recent study showing how fasting rejuvenates the immune system and helps autoimmune diseases.
Valter Longo has also written a book about fasting called “The Longevity Diet” and it will be available from January 2018.
Article reviewed and updated: March 2019.